Why For-Profit Workplace Insurance Ruins Workers’ Lives

Link: https://jacobin.com/2022/06/victoria-australia-workers-comp-private-insurance

Excerpt:

In Victoria, Australia, a broken workplace injury compensation system is letting workers down. WorkSafe is the state’s institution that regulates industry safety standards and governs workplace injury insurance. However, its workers’ compensation arm, WorkCover, outsources the handling of workers’ compensation claims to private insurance companies that place profit ahead of the health of our communities’ most vulnerable members.

Deprived of a political voice that can stand for them, injured workers report being stalked by private investigators in order to force them back into work before they have recovered. This frequently exacerbates their injuries and triggers new and often debilitating psychological harm. This harassment is most often targeted at workers with long-term injuries or those who are homebound as a result of their injuries.

Recently, however, injured workers from across Victoria have started coming together to campaign for change. Most importantly, they are demanding an end to outsourcing essential social services to private insurance agents who have an interest in cutting workers off from compensation payments as soon as possible. For these efforts to bear fruit, however, it’s crucial to understand the origins of the existing system that prioritizes insurance companies’ profits over injured and sick workers’ health.

Author(s): Reece Gittins

Publication Date: 9 June 2022

Publication Site: Jacobin

Study: Logging, landscaping most dangerous jobs in U.S.

Link: https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2021/09/18/logging-most-dangerous-profession/2541631912925/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Logging and landscaping are the most dangerous jobs in America, a new study finds.

The risk of death for loggers is more than 30 times higher than for all U.S. workers. Tree care workers also encounter hazards at rates far higher than a typical worker.

….

For the study, the researchers combed a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration database for deaths from tree felling between 2010 and the first half of 2020.

Over the period, Michael’s team found 314 deaths. The leading cause of fatal accidents was being struck by a tree, most often in the head.

….

Years such as 2012, 2017 and 2018 with abnormally high damage from Atlantic storms saw high numbers of landscaping deaths that might be tied to storm damage, while 2014 and 2015 had quiet hurricane seasons and few deaths.

Author(s): HealthDay News

Publication Date: 18 Sept 2021

Publication Site: UPI

Keeping Workers Safe: What Do the Numbers Say?

Link: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/keeping-workers-safe-what-do-the-numbers-say/?utm_source=kw_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2021-03-09

Excerpt:

Smith-McLallen: In a broad sense, what the nonessential business closure policy did was to create a situation that limited interpersonal contact for nonessential workers who were staying at home. But it also limited contact for essential workers who were perhaps commuting with fewer people, for example, and not necessarily exposed to all of the people who were staying at home. That secondary protective effect was very effective at reducing cases.

Another thing about that secondary protective effect is we might think that if there would have been no nonessential business closure — if the nonessential workers had gone out to work — their infection rates would have been the same as we observed among the essential workers. There would be no difference. That’s what the results of our study speak to. However, there is a real possibility that the rates for everyone would have been considerably higher, even higher than what we observed in the essential worker population, just because of the increased contact and exposure across the board.

What I think policymakers should take from this research is that with new strains of the virus being discovered, if we reach a point where we need to aggressively limit contact and transmission, nonessential business closure policies can be effective. And now we can quantify just how effective they can be.

Author(s): Hummy Song, Aaron Smith-McLallen

Publication Date: 9 March 2021

Publication Site: Knowledge @ Wharton

Insurers Have Been Draining Funds from New Jersey’s Pensions for 15 Years

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/insurers-draining-funds-new-jerseys-pensions-15-years/

Excerpt:

Insurance firms have been siphoning off money from New Jersey’s pension funds for the past 15 years thanks to a policy decision that shifted financial obligations for employee injuries to pension funds, according to an investigation by acting state Comptroller Kevin Walsh.

A report on the investigation said that a 2006 policy adopted by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) encourages injured employees to accept continuing medical monitoring and coverage instead of cash settlements. The report said the approach, which puts the financial burden on pension funds to pay workers rather than on insurance firms, has provided “a windfall to insurers and financially harms the pension funds.”

At least 114 public employees received both an accidental disability pension and a medical monitoring settlement between 2016 and 2019, according to the report. However, it said the exact cost to the pension funds was unknown because there are no records or data on what insurers would have paid in the absence of medical monitoring settlements.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 8 February 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

NJ Pensions Funding WC Insurers

Excerpt:

The New Jersey State Comptroller released a report examining a practice within the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) that allows state, school and local government employees injured on the job to seek weekly benefits, a lump sum settlement or continuing medical coverage, in addition to an accidental disability pension.

As deleterious as this practice may be for the state pension fund, eliminating it will only cost taxpayers more when the bigger picture is considered.

The DWC’s policies encourage workers’ compensation petitioners to settle claims that undermine New Jersey’s pension funds, provide windfalls to workers’ compensation insurance providers, including joint insurance funds and private insurance companies, and provide medical monitoring and coverage to employees without evaluating whether these benefits are justified by the nature of the injury. 

Author: John Bury

Publication Date: 4 February 2021

Publication Site: Burypensions